Reprinted with permission from The Book of Jewish Food: An Odyssey from Samarkand to New York (Knopf).
This is one of the most famous of Jewish foods and a specialty of Hanukkah. The latkes are served as an appetizer, as a side dish, and even for tea with a sprinkling of confectioners' sugar. They can be marvelous if properly prepared, just before eating.
2 lbs (1 kg)potatoes 2 largeeggs salt oil for frying
Peel and finely grate the potatoes. Put them straight into cold water, then drain and squeeze them as dry as you can by pressing them with your hands in a colander. This is to remove the starchy liquid, which could make the latkes soggy.
Beat the eggs lightly with salt, add to the potatoes, and stir well. Film the bottom of a frying pan with oil and heat. Take serving-spoonfuls, or as much as 1/4 cup (50 ml), of the mixture and drop into the hot oil. Flatten a little, and lower the heat so that the fritters cook through evenly. When one side is brown, turn over and brown the other.
Lift out and serve very hot.
You may add black pepper, chopped parsley, and finely chopped onion to the egg and potato mixture.
Adding 4 tablespoons of potato flour binds the fritters into firmer, more compact cakes, easier to handle but not quite as lovely to eat.
Claudia Roden is one of England's leading food writers. Her works include the James Beard Award winning The Book of Jewish Food and A Book of Middle Eastern Food.